Looking for a way to hold history in your hand? Former presidents Bush, Carter and Clinton, as well as President Obama, will appear at the Sierra 2 Center on Sunday — on buttons, badges and posters.
They are all part of a political collectible show and sale put on by the Northern California Chapter of American Political Items Collectors.
The APIC, a nonprofit that began in 1945, has more than 2,000 members and 19 regional chapters. Northern California’s chapter has about 300 members, said Adam Gottlieb, the chapter’s president.
Gottlieb has been collecting political memorabilia since he was 11, starting with a Teddy Roosevelt button from 1904. Gottlieb, 45, said Roosevelt memorabilia makes up the bulk of his collection, which will be among those on display.
In addition to the show and sale, the gathering will serve as the chapter’s meeting. Besides showing off their collections, local members of the APIC will appraise memorabilia brought in by the public.
"If a button comes in, we can separate the real pins from the fakes," said Gottlieb. "We can tell you the condition, scarcity, and give an estimated value."
One year, a man came in with a chest full of various presidential memorabilia, among them Taft and Roosevelt buttons, and left with a check for $4,600. Thousands of buttons will make up the bulk of the show and sale, Gottlieb said.
He also noted that the button as we know it was created in 1896. Before that, people had badges or tokens people would hang with a ribbon or a clasp.
Some of the rarest political artifacts in existence are from George Washington’s presidential campaign. They include buttons that would be sewn onto a vest or jacket.
Many APIC members have a collection from a specific president; Nixon, Lincoln and Kennedy are among the most popular. Cary Jung, an APIC member, will be displaying his collection of Jerry Brown memorabilia at the event.
"(Collectors) come from all walks of life: (from) stock brokers, students and scientists (to) people who work in the Capitol," said Gottlieb.
The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday in Curtis Hall at the Sierra 2 Center, 2791 24th St. General admission is $4, children and students are free.
Photographs courtesy Adam Gottlieb